Swallow the Sun "Hope" CDPosted on Friday, June 1st, 2007 @ 8:46am » permalink
The latest from Finland's Swallow the Sun, "Hope" (on Candlelight Records) sees the band continuing to supplant themselves as one of the absolute finest in their niche with eight tracks in nearly an hour's time. Many would tag the band's style with some form or another of "doom", which isn't inaccurate per se, but it certainly doesn't do justice to the variety and sheer force of their material. Slow, plodding tempos with surging power chords and emphatic lead melodies do make up the core foundation of the their work, but there are always a number of more involved chord phrasings and subtly dissonant runs that color up the tracks nicely, and the superbly powerful vocal growls actually manage to achieve an intense level of feeling and emotion (all too often absent within this particular style of vocals) – further balanced out by smooth, fluid singing on occasion. I wouldn't exactly call the songs "catchy", but for a band that deals so heavily with dark, somber aesthetics the compositions are surprisingly lively and memorable – certainly far more involved and in some abstract manner "energetic" than the bulk of their contemporaries (and, shit, many of their influences as well). Seeing as the tracks routinely top seven minutes it's certainly an enduring listen, but lulls in the impact are few and far between ("Too Cold For Tears", coincidentally the longest track on the disc, represents the only slight lag for me), and the fact that there are so many beautiful moments throughout more than makes up for such. The recording is fucking pristine, too. The guitars are crushingly dense without lacking detail, the percussion is fluid and crisp while remaining naturally warm and spacious, the bass pulses away in the distance to round out the core heaviness, the keyboards are superbly clean and clear and actually add to the atmosphere of the material rather than distracting the listener, and the vocals are perfectly mixed so as to blend in with the instrumentation rather than fighting for attention at the forefront. Love that cover art, too. Swallow the Sun is just an exceptional band. If you're a fan of this particular realm of metal, you simply can't go wrong with these guys. Very much recommended.
Pick one up if you like what you hear, and absolutely look into the band's back catalog as well if you're new to the fold: